Podcast-ep13-banner

With

Guy Courtin

Vice President of Industry and Advanced Technology,
Tecsys Inc.

The Enabling Digital with Systems Plus podcast series explores how CIOs can capture opportunities by looking at and beyond technology and data to propel their organizations into the digital forefront.

The podcast series looks at how independent thought leaders and visionaries from the tech industry across the globe bring their ideas to scale within the business world, sharing innovative, path-breaking insights with our listeners.

We interview experts on trends and best practices for IT leaders. We talk monthly with tech thought leaders on 21st-century business topics like innovation, digital transformation, AI, automation & Tech talent.

Guest expert
details

Guy Courtin is a Senior Executive with deep experience in the technology field. Currently functioning as the Vice President of Industry and Advanced Technology at Tecsys Inc., he is a broadly curious professional not afraid to color outside the lines while exciting and enthusiastically engaging colleagues and employees. He has extensive global experience with both small and large companies- concentrations in B2B software and package applications. His key skills and specialties include industry marketing, thought leadership, market segmentation analysis, competitive analysis, industry analyst relations, public relations, contract negotiation, event management, partner strategies, inbound marketing, and social media marketing. He also exhibits staunch domain expertise in the supply chain, logistics, retail, automation, and fulfillment industries.

Key
takeaway

  • Impact of the pandemic on supply chains
  • Automation during the pandemic
  • Importance of a Chief Supply Chain Officer in C Suite
  • Challenges in digital transformation and order fulfillment
  • Consumer-centric approach in retail supply chains
  • Data utilization for supply chain optimization
  • Future of automation and robotics in supply chains
  • Key to successful adoption of technological implementation
  • Future trends in retail supply chains

Podcast
transcript

Sapan 0:20
“Welcome to Enabling Digital- a Systems Plus podcast series. My name is Sapan Choksi and today I'm joined by a retail stalwart Guy Courtins. His insights into technology transformation that is taking place around retail, and specifically, the retail supply chain, is unparalleled. Guy, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you!”

Guy 0:43
“Thank you so much for having me here and I'm really looking forward to this.”

Sapan 0:47
“Awesome, so let's jump right in. I want to start with the pandemic; it created havoc on the entire supply chain across the globe. How did you approach the problem and help navigate your customers through this challenge?”

Guy 0:59
"Wow, that's a big one. Yes, of course, the pandemic was a global disruption, especially in the supply chain space. I have a joke about this, but the reality is that the pandemic shined a light on the supply chain—what it meant and what it did for everybody. I'll give you a funny side story: my mother, a very smart woman, for the longest time has always asked me, 'Well, Guy, what do you do, and I don't really understand what the supply chain thing is.' The pandemic hits, and all of a sudden, she calls me up one day and says, 'Now I know what supply chain is.' Because when she went to the grocery store and there wasn't anything on the shelf, she understood what supply chain meant. So, the reason I bring this up is because I think it gives a little context as to when the pandemic hit. We know all the disruptions it made, all the tragedies that happened, and how our lives changed. But what it really did is showed that when you and I and everyone listening to this podcast, if we're out there as consumers or even for day jobs, we are looking for things to get to us in a timely and cost-efficient, effective fashion. And that's what the supply chain does.
The problem is that we ran supply chains in a very lean manner. We ran supply chains just in time, quickly, really trying to cut the fat out of the supply chain. And what the pandemic showed is that maybe we cut too much fat out, and maybe we weren't ready for this. So, to answer your question, one of the things that was really interesting for me at the time; I was working for a company called Six River; we were in automation for the warehouse. It was an interesting time from the standpoint that a lot of us thought that our business would be put under a lot of pressure, companies would be reassessing their supply chain investments, companies would be worried about making payroll, and keeping their employees safe and healthy. What we found is that the automation we provided for warehousing actually took off during the pandemic because, we always have labor issues but during the pandemic, even more so because now people couldn't go in, people had to be socially distant, people were getting sick. And suddenly, these robotic solutions were helping the supply chain and one part of it to keep up as much as it could. So, my experience during the pandemic is really around that. It was, to some degree, eye-opening, to show me the value of some of these new technologies, automation, in particular, when it came to parts of the supply chain. The pandemic was just the catalyst to some degree for this adoption because the ROI model became easier to demonstrate as we were living it. And that was one of the big experiences I got during the pandemic."

Sapan 3:56
“Oh, that's pretty cool. So actually, I'm going to quote a statement that I've already seen in the past that ‘Supply chain needs a seat at the C suite’. Can you help our listeners understand what you mean by that and understand why you feel that way?”

Guy 4:12
"Absolutely. The reason why supply chain needs a seat at the C suite is that if we think about the boardroom, we have our CEO, we have our Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, CIO, CTO—these all represent parts of your organization that help you do what you're trying to do, which is to get a product or a service to your end customer. What we forget sometimes is that, especially if it's a physical object or a physical good we're trying to deliver to someone, there is a whole supply chain that supports it. So, there's a whole organization, and sometimes people say that's just the Chief Operating Officer that will take care of that. But I would argue the Chief Supply Chain Officer has a unique set of skills and a unique value prop for the business and for that C suite. What do I mean by that? It's someone who has the understanding of, first and foremost, 'What does your supply chain look like?’, 'How is your relationship with your suppliers?’, 'How's your manufacturing?’, 'How's your fulfillment?’, 'How's your logistics?’, 'How's your storage?’. All these components that go into your business, how does he or she manage that and understand all the moving parts? Secondarily, how does this role, this person of the C suite, able to promote and disagree and fight for the needs of the supply chain with the CIO, the CTO, the CMO, the CRO, etc.?

As an example, if the CIO says, 'We need a new ERP system,’ how's that going to impact my supply chain? How is that new system going to tie into my other systems, my WMS, my TMS, my SOP engines, my planning engines, etc.? If you don't have someone at the C suite who understands this, can speak for it, and advocate for it at the C level, then what you're going to get is decisions made without understanding the impact it's going to have on your supply chain. And the reality—and this is the part people forget—is that they say, 'Supply chain is a back office function, we'll just tell supply chain what to do.’ More and more people are now realizing that supply chain drives your business. If you don't allow that part of the business to have a voice at the C suite, you're going to miss out because you're making decisions without having a true picture of how your business functions. I truly believe that we need to see more and more of a Chief Supply Chain Officer title and role. And that person needs to be able to sit at the C suite level and have just as much responsibility as the Chief Marketing Officer, the Chief Revenue Officer, the Chief Information Officer, etc. So, I think it's really important, and we're starting to see it happen. I just think we need to see a much more concerted acceleration of it. And I know hope is not a strategy, but my hope is that by the end, the CSCO will be just as much a part of a C suite as any other C levels that we see today."

Sapan 7:24
“I think you bring up a great point. Anecdotally, without naming names, we're working with a customer who used to source from China, and the merchandise was coming over by ship, and it got stuck due to certain reasons which I won't go into, and they missed the whole back to school rush. But in any case, I diverge; but you also talk a lot about order fulfillment. And, having everything be economical, and having it come in a timely fashion, which I can't agree with you more. But I feel a lot of people miss this. Can you expand on why you feel it is so important? I know it ties a little bit into what you just said, but I think it's important for people to understand that why this whole thought process, especially in the last couple of years has changed and why order fulfillment has become a key to customer happiness, I would say.”

Guy 8:42
"Absolutely. I'm going to go back to the time machine here. I started my career back in the late '90s, late last century, and I was fortunate enough to start my first real job at Forrester Research. For those of us old enough to remember that time, the dot-com boom was happening, and everybody was clamoring all over themselves. NASDAQ was going crazy, this dot-com thing was just taking off, and Forrester was one of the research companies focused on that. So, I really got a front-row seat to what was happening in this dot-com boom. One of the things, to answer your question, is that I learned that we started embracing more digital, and the digital back then, of course, was the web. We had this internet thing, and now, if I was running a rug manufacturing store in the South of France, I could advertise my products across the world. I had access to the entire world technically through this thing called the web, the internet. And all of a sudden, that just opened up, from a digital perspective, an unlimited market to some degree. I could sell my carpets, I could have a store, but I could sell it to someone as they could just click on it and see my product and see the price and interact with me and then purchase it. Then I realized, wait a minute, I gotta wrap that rug and put it in a box. I gotta ship it across the world. I can do it if I have unlimited funds, but we all know this, it costs money. And what we realized very quickly, hindsight in 2020 is that the internet boom was the front part of that consumer journey, that you and I and everybody else who was a consumer can now interact with brands and retailers and companies, and that was absolutely revolutionary.
What we neglected at some level is the backend, the fulfillment side. All of a sudden, we're like, I can sell you anything I want online, but I gotta ship it to you. If I just shipped one to Sapan, and you said you're in India right now, I could ship it to you in India. It might cost me, but maybe for you and I, I can do it and still be, air quotes, 'profitable' for now. If I want to do it to another 10 people, now the scale has become such that I need to have the ability to ship something cost-effectively and in a timely fashion. So, that is one of the lessons I took into question when it comes to the retail supply chain.
Today, when it comes to digital transformation, one of the things that we constantly forget, especially in the retail side, is that it is still a physical activity. What I mean by that is when we think about fulfillment, we think about retail, we think about what we're seeing. At the end of the day, retail, when you boil it down is, I'm just trying to get you a product into your hands. Whether it's a carpet, a pen, a book, a t-shirt, whatever it is, I'm trying to get you this physical object into your hands. And now what we're seeing is that I'm giving you, the consumer, the option to tell me, the retailer, where you want me to give it to you. You want to come into a store, to deliver it to your house, you want to put it into an Amazon locker, you want me to deliver it to you by drone wherever that may be. So that fulfillment side has become more complicated. But it's always been incredibly challenging because it's a physical activity. And we all know this, that Mother Nature and physics, we can't bend it to the way we want it. Physics is physics, right? I can only move a ship across the ocean at a certain speed; I can only put so many of us on a ship; I can only put so many T-shirts on a truck driving down the road at a certain speed. There are physical constraints.
I mean, the great example I always use in presentations, I show a picture of the ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal last year, a year and a half ago. It's a physical issue, right? No matter how many digital bits and bytes I put around it, if that ship runs aground, that swift canal is stopped for X amount of days. And there's nothing I can do about it. I can't go around Africa any faster because I could reroute my stuff, but I can't go any faster. I can put stuff back on a plane, but I can't have access to unlimited capacity. From that perspective, the fulfillment aspect is one that we are constantly trying to solve for, optimize for. But we are limited by the fact that it is a physical activity. And that, we as consumers, or we as businesses do a pretty good job on the ones and zeros- the digital aspect. But once we spill over to the physical side, we're limited by Mother Nature. She still rules the world, so to speak, and we can only move and do things that she allows us to do within certain constraints."

Sapan: 14:18
"Absolutely. That's a very valid point. But speaking of which, you talked about constraints. Today the world is becoming increasingly consumer-centric. I'm not saying it wasn't before, but that whole thought process of hyper-personalization has become the flavor of the day. So, being consumer-focused and the approach that retailers are taking today, it impacts supply chain strategies, for sure. How can digital transformation help align the supply chain with evolving consumer demands, and how do you foresee this evolution and the role of supply chain pundits or supply chain is going to play in that?"

Guy 15:12
“Yeah, the whole digital consumerization into supply chain, I think is really fascinating. If I take a step back and let's decouple what digital really means. And in this case, what I really look at when it comes to digital, is the access to data, right access to information, and, we've all seen the statistics, we've created more data the past three years and humans have created in the past, since the beginning of time, so we are creating, just mountains of data. There’s no shortage of data. So that's the first part I think, is when we think about digital, I boil it down to right now for data and to your question, hybrid consumerization to some degree, digitization has empowered that.
I always tell people, when it comes to retail today, I think the advantage consumers have is that, because of digital, they have a voice. Social media- we're allowed to go out there and comment and look at and read and interact directly with a brand that we never could before, we have a choice. I talk about the internet. And we think about the internet as if it's been around forever, it's like water and no, it's really only been around for a couple of decades. But because of the internet, we have unlimited choice. And then now we have the reach, right? We all carry around or most of us carry around a supercomputer in our pocket in the form of an iPhone or an Android phone or whatever mobile phone you carry. That's a supercomputer. So as consumers to your point, you're right on because the hyper personalization has shifted. Why? Because we gained the power in the relationship with retail. So now we can place demands on that infrastructure and say we want the product that looks like this and delivered here, this cost, etc. And by the way, if you don't do it for me, I'll just go on my phone, and I'll click on someone else's website and find that product. So that's the power shift. And now to your question about the digitization, I think we're starting to see more and more retailers are coming around to understanding that. Okay, now, yes, we've given all this power to the consumer. But now we have tools where we can at least be competitive in this relationship, meaning we can be more efficient in our supply chain.

Now back to this notion of data. The challenge is that data and I will freely admit, this is a pet peeve, what if I hear someone tell me data's a new oil, I might scream. Because part of it and I tell people this all the time is, if I take oil out of the Middle East or out of a tar pit in Canada, it's useless until I refine it. I need to refine that oil, I need to make it into heating oil for a house, into plastic, into automotive oil for my car, right? I need to transform that oil into something that is of practical use. It's the same thing with data, I can collect all this data until the cows come home, until I transform it into something I can apply to some part of my business, it's basically useless. It's just taking up storage space in my cloud. So what I want people to think about is that, yes, I need to be super sensitive to my customers’ needs, demands, and their whims. I have all this information as data that I can now harvest to be better prepared for that. But I need to understand, what data am I looking for? Can I refine it, to do something with it? And then see, how do I apply it?
For example, one of the things I look at, especially in supply chain, and I think Apple did a fantastic job with this years ago and they still do but one really good example I have is, Apple basically looked at demand patterns. They picked up digital signals, they picked up buying behavior, picked up traditional point of sale type information, this is back during the iPod days, and they recognized that there's going to be a big run on iPods and that their new models coming out need a certain amount of memory. They went out, they bought all the capacity for that hard drive for the iPod so that when they actually needed it they knew they had the capacity within their supply chain to meet their customers’ needs and what happened was, you fast forward in that example, when they started manufacturing it- other players, Samsung and others needed that flash drive as well. They listen that Apple's already bought all this capacity, we have none left. So it's an example of a big-brand retailer using digital, using the data, using the signals they could harvest from that data to then make a smart decision as to ensuring, from a supply chain perspective, they had the capacity of the material to build their products looking forward. And that goes back to being customer centric. Why? Because they recognize that Guy was going to come next year and buy a new iPod, and he wanted XY and Z so we better make sure that it's there to satisfy their needs. But we need to make sure we add the actual product and the actual material to do it. I think a lot of retailers, from that perspective, are looking at data to a) better understand their customers’ needs. Because you talked about hyper personalization, you're spot on, right? I think the front end of the supply chain, we're looking more and more where we'll be able to market and sell someone will tell you, you and I could be going online and looking to buy a pair of sneakers, but we're going to customize it so much that we know that you want it this way. They come up with the same assembly line, but we're going to tweak at the end, I'm using data to figure that out. But then secondarily on the backend, so to speak, these retailers are using their digital strategy, specifically around data, to better manage their supply chain to better be not just proactive, but also be better reactive. When things happen to pick up signals quicker and to adapt their supply chain, it's still a massive challenge. Don't get me wrong, it's easy to say to do it. The actual practicality is very challenging. But the positive side is that the basic tools and data are out there. Now the challenge is how do you harvest it and better use it to again, back to your point to be hyper customer sensitive.”

Sapan 21:49
“I was going to actually ask you, or interrupt you earlier on that same point. You're absolutely right. But, we do work with a lot of retailers. And some are better than others. But I'm sure you've seen a lot of retailers are still while they're starting to see the power of data, they're still pretty far behind. So yeah, I guess it's a journey. But I'm going to switch gears a little bit here. We'll talk a little bit about some future tech, and I was reading your articles where you talked about robots transforming retail, etc. And I liked the way you broke it down, you said there are over three, sorry, there are over 650 vendors in the market. And the whole thing can be very overwhelming. But as you said, identify the area that you want to automate, and then go there. So how do you guide your customers in that sense? Because it seems that the problem can be very overwhelming, and everybody wants to sell you all the bells and whistles, etc. But then how do you guide your customers say, step back, break it down? What is your real major problem? Is it solving this? How do you navigate that?”

Guy 23:09
“This is gonna sound like business school one on one, right? It's if you start with the end in mind and work backwards. And I think it's oversimplifying it, especially in robotics, and in fulfillment in the warehouse and distribution, this is like every technology writes up on, people like us, we're in the middle of it. So we live it, we breathe it, we get it, but we realize very quickly, when you start talking to some of these folks who have day jobs, they're working their business. And you might as well be talking to them about six dimensional chess because they look at you like what are you talking about, but it truly is ‘start with the end’ goal in mind. And what I mean by that is, let's take a very finite example. Some of the customers I talked to in the past or I still do today about robotics, sometimes they come to us and they say, listen, right now, the big issue is what- labor, well, we don't have labor, I'm shifting to a more holistic distribution model meaning physical stores, but I'm also going to do a lot more ecommerce and I'm going to try to do it myself. But all of a sudden, I realized, I opened a DC and I have trouble hiring labor, let alone retaining it. Now I'm asking that labor to pick orders and, by the way now, because, things are going so well, my e commerce orders are growing and now they're 20% of my overall revenue stream. I gotta make sure I keep that channel going. But I've hired Sapan and Guy to pick but they know that there's not a lot of labor so they don't come in every day on time and they take longer lunch breaks and all this. I've heard about this thing called robots to help me pick, I want to buy some. But the question I always have, is I sit down with the customer and say, let's think about that. What is this technology? What is the problem it is trying to solve? Is it solving the labor problem? Are they solving the problem that I can't pick stuff fast enough or that one day I expect to pick more stuff. I need some kind of complementary technology to help me do that. Because then what we can do is we can start, again, working the problem, meaning, in automation, as you said, there's close as 700 different automation vendors out there today. There's a lot of different flavors of automation. There's fixed automation, there's automation that is mobile robots, there's picking arms, etc., so there's no shortage of choice. But the consequences of your choices are long term. For a lot of these situations, a lot of times right now, sometimes it's really just peeling it back and doing a one on one lesson with them is saying, alright, here's where automation is, here's what it looks like, let's talk about what you guys are trying to do with it. And then really try to look at what is this going to look like for the next couple of years, because the difference between warehouse automation or distribution automation is that back to the earlier part of this conversation, it's a physical item, it's hardware. I'm putting this in my warehouse.

In some cases, I'm literally putting steel in the ground with this technology. Unlike a software package, which even that we know, as much as is just ones and zeros, once I put a software package in, to rip it out is very challenging. Now imagine that where I'm physically putting something in your warehouse, and then I might say, that's not working, we take it out. So there's all these kinds of considerations to take, when we think about this, and what I have found, which is interesting is maybe two, three years ago, people saw automation, in a way a lot of them took a plunge and are like, ‘Alright, I'm gonna invest in this technology, or that technology I'm finding today, which I think is fantastic’. The buyer is becoming a lot more savvy. So they are still trying to figure out what does this mean, what does it look like. But they're much more savvy in terms of thinking about the long term repercussions, the long term opportunities with this investment. Their understanding also, one of the issues that we're seeing in automation, is the interoperability. So yes, I might buy a robotic system to do my picking but how does that impact my put away? How does it impact my cycle? Counting? How does it pass on my movements? I need to think about these things. There is no magic bullet. A lot of it is just understanding what the customer is, what is their end goal, what their near term issue, and what's the long term repercussion, working through the options and really painting as clear a picture of one can, to the plus and minus and everything. But I think what's interesting is, I do remind myself this on a regular basis that I live and breathe this stuff, I want to say not to take it for granted, but there's certain things where I'm like, that's the way it works. But then I have to realize, I might go into a retailer and their day job is to sell their product, sell their shoes, run their website, run their stores. And so, they don't live and breathe this stuff, like I do. So a lot of times, it's realizing that you just need to educate, and they're all smart people, they understand, but educate and really paint the right picture, because just like every technology, it's not a panacea, it's not going to solve world problems. It's a tool. And if you don't use that tool right, it's not going to do what it's supposed to do. So it's the other part too, is that we have to pump the brakes and make folks realize that technology, software, hardware, robots, whatever it may be, those are tools. And they're great tools. They're fantastic tools. But if I don't use them properly, I won't get the result I expect. And there's this exact same thing with robotics.”

Sapan 29:14
“I'm going to touch on that actually a little bit. We always tell our customers that I can build you the best software, it'll have every single bells and whistles show that you need. It could be awesome. But adoption is key, I can have the best tool or system but if people don't use it, then it's a failure. So how do you get that across to your customers?”

Guy 29:37
“I think part of it is- don't oversell it, because you're absolutely right. And I've been through plenty of these where I would sell software to someone and be like, ‘Oh, my goodness, you could do this, you could do that’. And then, you go back six months, 10 months later, and they're using 20% of the software and you're like, ‘Well, what about all this other stuff?’ And they're like, ‘Well, I don't really need it right now, so this is fine. It's doing what it needs to do’. I think we need to be very humble when it comes to the automation side, which is don't oversell it. Because yes, it can do a lot of different things, it could potentially do X, Y, and Z, it could potentially, one day do A, B, and C. But again, when we talk about having supply chain at the C suite level, it goes back to that too, right? You need to understand that the person you're selling technology to, they're trying to solve a problem, can you solve that problem? Yes, fantastic. Solve it, make them happy, make them happy in the eyes of their boss, make them happy in the eyes of the chief supply chain officer, because that gives them job security and they move up the ladder. And the company goes, well, if we started trying to expand and push all this other ancillary activity that the automation could do, I think all you're doing now is you're muddying up the waters. And sometimes we try to do that because we want to show how powerful that technology is and how fantastic this is. We forget sometimes that, for example, if I'm selling to an operations person, what they're asking for is, they say, ‘Listen, I don't know if later, I need to be able to pick at a consistent rate. And, by the way, tomorrow, I might be picking shampoo bottles, and in six months, I might be picking toys. Does your solution allow me to do that? Yes? check that box. Okay, that's all I care about. Let me see it in action, let me get the benefit out of it. And then you can come back and tell me what else you can do. But for now, can you solve this problem’. And this is the challenge. Back to the whole notion of having a chief supply chain officer at the C suite is that we need to solve these near term finite problems. But we need to have some of the C suite that has that long term vision as well. Because that's where you're gonna see the true high performing companies that have that C suite presence, be able to take some of these investments. And yes, I need to solve for x. But I can also see what's going to happen down the road and position myself for that. For example, I was talking to a customer and looking at putting conveyors, old fashioned conveyors, steel on the ground, to move their items. And part of me was like, but do you not realize that you're stuck with this for the next 20 years? What happens if your business changes in five years? What are you gonna do? You can't just rip it out as that's very disruptive and costly. But for them, it was just that we're gonna put it in because it solves our problem. I'm like, yeah, it solves your problem today but is it future proofing you? Is it allowing you to be reactionary, to where supply chains are gonna go on in the next 5,10, 20 years? And again, that's where I think the importance of supply chain being at the C suite level will allow you to have, which is, yes, I'm going to solve for my issues today with the vision what's gonna happen tomorrow.”

Sapan 33:08
“Oh, fantastic. Oh, I can go on and on but I'm running out of time so I'm going to stick to this last question. I'm gonna put you a little bit on the spot. But looking ahead, what are the trends and technologies that you see shaping the future supply chain? And in the retail industry, specifically, who are the few retailers that you will see are doing great job?”

Guy 33:33
“Yeah, I love looking out in the future. Because, you know, unless someone calls me back in five years, and they listen to this, so I can say whatever I want with some conviction. So, I think the future is really interesting, so I’ll break it down. If we look at retail, specifically, I break it down to two buckets. The consumer wants are the front end side, and then the supply chain side, no surprise there. So for me, and you mentioned this and I think we're just going to see more of this, is the continual evolution to greater personalization for the consumer. And what I'm seeing in that is, we have more connected devices, we're talking about data and we're just getting more and more data, whether of course we carry our phones around and now people carry or wear smartwatches and etc. And this other part is sort of died down, but I think it's still out there, we see a lot more connected products. I remember seeing Ralph Lauren had connected T shirts so they can measure how you were sweating in your workouts. So as a society, we're just going to generate more and more consumer data. That from a personalization perspective, I think we're gonna see more and more of and not just in how I market or brand to you but almost down to how I manufacture products for you like how do I make bespoke products just for Sapan or just for Guy. I think we're going to see more and more of that, we're already starting to see a little bit of it. For example, I’m a big fan of Adidas, I still play soccer. I don't know if my body allows me to do that, but I still do it. But I love Adidas soccer boots, and now used to be able to order Adidas soccer boots customized, but even down to like, my left foot’s a 10 and a half and my right foot’s 10. So I wanted two boots, two shoes to be different, so we're gonna start seeing more and more of that customization but more and more of it done in a proactive way. And I can't believe I'm saying this term, but I know we probably need to say it, but we're leveraging more AI or machine learning to better understand that customization down to the product level. So I think we're gonna start seeing more and more of that, where again, not not across the board everywhere, we're still gonna go to a store and buy a t shirt in a size large, but more and more, you're gonna see products that are truly hyper personalized, as you talked about. And that's really, for the digital perspective, taking all that information, making use of it, applying smart algorithms to it to try to make better decisions. So that's on the customer side, that we're gonna see more and more of that, and we are already. On the supply chain side, I think back to two points we talked about a) when I look at fulfillment, we touched upon automation in fulfillment, the warehouse. I think from a retail perspective, we're going to see more and more automation get closer to us. What I mean by that is a lot of automation today is in the warehouse. Well, last I checked, most people don't just go to a warehouse and hang out like I do because that’s my job but most consumers don't go hang out in a warehouse. So seeing a robot is like, okay, but we're gonna start seeing more and more of this in our daily lives, helping fulfill or helping service us as a consumer. We’re already starting to see companies like Neuro and Starship doing last mile delivery with robotics, and a company called Zipline out there doing drone delivery. We're gonna see more service robots out there. I remember seeing a robot called Badger in a grocery store that does monitoring of aisles to make sure there's no spills. So as consumers, as retail on the supply chain, one of the things I'm going to look for the next couple years is technology like automation becoming more prevalent in our daily lives. And I could speak hours for this, because there's obviously challenges, but I certainly think that's something to look for, from that perspective. And the other one is, we talked about is data and I think it's true that we're going to see more and more in the next few years of how do we leverage information and data to be more collaborative within our supply chain. The term supply chain, of course is not really a good name. It's not a chain, right? It's not linear, it's a network and that network is always changing. So how do we leverage this digital twin to be more efficient in our supply chain and that's across the board, but especially in retail, because in retail we have to be hypersensitive to the consumers’ needs. And let's face it, we as consumers are super fickle, the better I could use data to be more reactionary, more proactive, more dynamic in my supply chain and I think that's another area we're gonna see more of. I'm starting to see this across the board. Companies like Sephora do a fantastic job with this, they really are able to use the digital front end with their customers with their mobile app with what they do in the store, and then feed that data back through their supply chain and be much more resilient with their suppliers. So I think that's one example of someone that's using the data from the front end, but also applying it through the back end. I look at companies like Home Depot, which I think is really fascinating, a very specific example with them about what they're doing future wise with digital and consumer tie in, but also what their supply chain is. If you go to a Home Depot, it's massive, and you can stop and associate, and hopefully, most of the time, they're very good, they know where stuff is. But what I've been doing recently, which I think is fast, which is you think it's like a no brainer, but you go to the Home Depot app, and you can look at the products, but then you can say ‘Hey, I'm gonna be in the Claritin New Hampshire store and I'm looking for this product’. They'll say there's six left on the shelf. It's on aisle seven row 12. So there's a digital connection between me as a consumer- meeting my needs, because now you're addressing my needs for finding this product but you're also helping your supply chain by being able to manage that process ship it to him or I can push it to the store, I can debit the product in the store, so now from a supply chain perspective, I know where my inventory is moving. And I'm sure I'm gonna feed all this data back into a bigger planning engine, so I can be smarter about this. We're seeing more and more of this. And I think that's really exciting. I'll give you one last example. I remember talking to some folks that are at Procter and Gamble, and they're hypersensitive with regards to where their products are. They're using digital data to understand all the way down to all the stores where their products are placed, exactly what's happening with regards to demand. So they can go down to a zip code down to a street down to a specific store. So they'll go into a Target and say, ‘Of this type of shampoo, how much is being sold? Oh, is it? Is it outpacing our plank? Because if it is then I need to replan that store faster than I used to. They’re really taking this digital revolution and harnessing the data to not only ensure that products are always stocked on the shelf, so they get back to the customer centricity. The last thing we want as a retailer is you and I walk in the store and we're excited to spend our money on a product and it's not on the shelf. Yes, I can go online and order it but if I go to the store, I want it on the shelf, or if I order it, it better be accessible to me in the right time. Things like that, understanding that and leveraging that information across supply chain to make sure that the front end meets our demands, and the back end ensures that they run their supply chain in a cost effective way to do so.”

Sapan 41:41
“Absolutely, this has been fantastic. Really appreciate your time. Thank you. Thank you so much. You've given us a lot of food for thought and more than that. I know a lot of our listeners and our customer base is really gonna appreciate some of your insights, so thank you.”

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